Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Small, wet mountainous rivers (runoff > 0.63 m yr" 1 , headwater elevation> 1000 m, basin area < 10,000 km2 ) contribute a disproportionate amount of sediment to the global ocean due to their steep high topography, erosive substrate, and often high precipitation. Scattered data have suggested a slight, but statistically insignificant, inverse relationship between total dissolved solid (TDS) yield (T km-2 yr-1 ) and basin area, but small to very small rivers (basin areas< 10,000 km2 ) have been poorly documented. To fill this data gap, as well as to elucidate possible links between weathering and basin hydrology, nine small wet mountainous rivers, basin areas 22 km2-2300 km2 , were sampled in late May 1997 in northeastern Papua New Guinea. TDS concentrations ranged from 75 to 148 mg L-1 , with no correlation to watershed area. The dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) values were low, with a mean DOC value of 135 f.Lmol L-1 ; POC values were lower, averaging 3lf.Lmol L- 1 • TDS data, combined with large wet mountainous river TDS data, demonstrate a significant inverse relationship between TDS yield and basin area. As a result, small wet mountainous rivers contribute a disproportionate amount of TDS, and have the highest TDS yields of any class of river. This observation is attributed to the high runoff of the sampled rivers (-2m yr-1 ), in addition to high rates of chemical weathering, which is facilitated by the erosive substrate and high rates of organic matter remineralization.



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